Q I have a 12-hour layover in Chicago before an overseas flight and want to see the sights downtown. Is there any place I can stow my large suitcase so that I don't have to drag it with me?
A Citing security concerns, O'Hare International Airport doesn't provide luggage storage at the airport, and its spokeswoman, Karen Pride, said that she's unaware of any options for travelers in your situation. Are you able to check your luggage through to your next destination? Travelers on various message boards have posed the same question, and some responses suggest asking a hotel to stow your bags while you sightsee. We checked with the O'Hare Hilton, the only hotel in the airport; they hold luggage for hotel guests only. You might consider renting a hotel room near the airport or downtown where you can freshen up before the next leg of your journey. Some hotels are offering unbeatable deals -- especially if you're willing to take the cheapest room they have. It just might be worth a relaxing day in the Windy City.
A novel about Frank Lloyd Wright's love life has inspired a new tour at Taliesin in southwest Wisconsin. Nancy Horan's bestselling "Loving Frank: A Novel" has brought attention to the tourist destination in Spring Green, which had a record attendance last season of about 28,500 people. It's based on the relationship between the famous architect and his real-life mistress Mamah Borthwick Cheney. The two-hour tour, dubbed the "Loving Frank Tour," looks at Taliesin from Borthwick's point of view in the novel and includes readings and a stop at a nearby cemetery to see Borthwick's grave. Wright used the property in Spring Green as a laboratory of sorts, changing and expanding it until he died in 1959. The tour will be held on the second and fourth Fridays from May through October. For more information, go to www.taliesinpreservation.org.
Despite a still sickly economy, Americans want to travel, according to a survey conducted by About.com. Travel is one of the two big-ticket purchases on Americans' wish lists, with 69 percent of respondents planning a 2010 vacation. But compared with last year, they're staying closer to home. Twenty-nine percent are increasing the number of road trips, 27 percent are planning more local weekend getaways, and 25 percent are doing more closer-to-home trips. Conversely, 33 percent are decreasing the number of overseas trips. Cost is the deciding factor. When choosing an airline, 84 percent look at baggage fees, while 73 percent said ticket price is most important. Fifty-four percent of consumers said they find ads with hotel discounts the most compelling.
The airline that will start charging passengers for carry-on bags that wind up in overhead bins in August has made another controversial move: sticking passengers in seats that don't push back. Spirit Airlines has introduced two new Airbus A320 planes with "pre-reclined" seats, as the airline calls them. The permanently reclined position of the seats provide 20 to 25 percent more space under the seat compared with those on other aircraft, and that provides more legroom for carry-on bags, according to the airline. That at least should help some of Spirit's customers avoid the charge -- up to $45 -- for carry-ons placed in the overhead bins.
Syttende Mai, a celebration of Norway's Constitution Day, will bring a plethora of activities this weekend to Spring Grove, Minn., about 150 miles southeast of the Twin Cities. On Friday, basketball and beanbag contests and other activities will be offered. Visitors can check out a two-mile nature walk, a soapbox derby, live music, a parade (at 1:30 p.m.), motocross racing and other events on Saturday. The festival wraps up Sunday with worship services, artists' demonstrations, a greased-pig contest and more music (1-507-450-2791; www.sgsyttendemai.org).
COLLEEN A. COLES